Riccardo Riccò is officially being investigated for doping via an illegal blood transfusion. He will likely have to wait another week to speak to the public prosecutor as he remains in hospital.
Yesterday, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, doctors transferred him to the cardiology department, where he remains under constant surveillance.
The investigation became official yesterday, based Italy's anti-doping law, 376/2000. Police searched the home of Riccò's fiancée, Vania Rossi in Serramazzoni last Wednesday, February 9. The search followed Riccò being admitted to the hospital, where he explained to a medic that he had botched a blood transfusion.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and International Cycling Union (UCI) consider blood transfusions doping.
Riccò went to the hospital in Pavullo nine days ago on Sunday, February 6, with kidney failure and low blood pressure. Before being transferred to a bigger hospital in Baggiovara, he admitted to the transfusion.
"On his own," explained the medic of Riccò's admission, "he had done an auto-transfusion of blood that had been kept at in a refrigerator at home for 25 days." He added that Riccò was afraid that "he had stored the blood poorly."
Riccò faces a probable five-year to life-time sporting ban because this is his second offence. He tested positive for blood booster EPO-CERA at the Tour de France in 2008. The test results were revealed after he had already won two stages.
He returned to race last year, first with team Ceramica Flaminia and then with team Vacansoleil. Vacansoleil is first division and is due to race both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France this year. Riccò trained over the winter and had already begun his season, racing the GP Marseillaise on January 30.
He was due to race the Tour Méditerranéen stage race last week and the Giro d'Italia in May. His last time to race the Giro d'Italia was in 2008, two months before the Tour de France. He finished second overall behind Spain's Alberto Contador, won the young riders classification and two stages.
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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